Race Car Sponsorship - The Meeting and Pitch (Part 3 of 4)
Once you have your presentation created and your prospects collected, it’s time to prepare for the meeting and pitch. There are multiple options for contacting prospects to set up a meeting. You can call, email, send a letter, or ask them in person. According to McKenna, networking events are great places to get your name and face out there. At these events people will be handing out business cards, so be sure to have some of your own to offer. Meeting a prospect in person allows them to get to know you better. If you don’t get the chance to set up a meeting at the event face to face, send them an email asking to get together to discuss your marketing program.
Even if you haven’t met the potential sponsor in person, emailing can still be effective. Without a previously established relationship, the email will need to be extra compelling to catch the attention of the business. McKenna recommends starting the email with who you are, your age, where you’re from, and what you do. After the introduction, try to think of a captivating fact about yourself. For example, you could write your greatest racing accomplishment. Then, you should include why you are reaching out to them. What about their business interests you? How did you hear about it? What do you admire about the company? Answering these questions in your email will help you build rapport without actually meeting anyone in person. Finally, you’ll need to present your offer. Ask them if they would be interested in meeting with you to discuss what your marketing program has for them. It’s important to emphasize the value and opportunities sponsorship can bring to their company, instead of just asking for money.
Although email is a fantastic tool, cold calling can also make an impression. Walking into a business and asking for a meeting shows courage, boldness, and passion. On some occasions, you may face rejection. Other times, you’ll expand your network and find sponsorship opportunities. If you’re up for it, the risk could pay off!
Once the meeting is set up, you’ll want to be as prepared and professional as possible. McKenna suggests dressing in business professional or business casual clothing, depending on the type of company you’re presenting to. Business professional clothing is typically a full suit and tie or a business dress. This type of attire is appropriate for big, corporate companies. Business casual, on the other hand, could include khakis and a button-down or blouse with nice shoes. This is more suitable for smaller businesses. For either setting, you want to appear clean-cut, polished, and put together. Your appearance may not seem too important, but it can set the tone for the whole presentation. Also, if it’s your first time meeting them in person, you want to make a memorable first impression.
Before the meeting happens, try to get a feel for what the setup will be and how you should prepare. In some cases, it’s best to ask them point-blank. If it will be a one on one meeting, you should bring a laptop or a handout to use as a visual aid. McKenna uses PowerPoint in her presentations. When using a PowerPoint, make sure to avoid having too many words on the slides. You can use bullet points to guide your message. However, people will be more interested in listening to you than reading off a screen.
The meeting is a perfect opportunity for you to explain your story and passion for racing. Share with them why you love what you do and how you can help bring recognition to their brand. Showcase your various marketing packages and present opportunities for them to reach the racing audience.
After you’ve made your pitch, make sure to leave plenty of time for a question and answer session. Prepare answers for questions about what kind of deal you want to make. In addition to having answers ready, you should come up with some questions to ask them. For example, “What are you looking to gain from this partnership?” or “What are your marketing needs?” Plan to give them time to express their priorities and desires for the partnership.
Some other tips from McKenna are to have a firm handshake and make good eye contact. These actions may seem trivial, but they add to the professionalism and confidence of your presentation. Introduce yourself with your first and last name to ensure everyone knows how to pronounce them. Speak with confidence and clarity. Maintain good eye contact throughout the pitch. At the end, firmly shake everyone’s hand again and exchange business cards if you haven’t already. Bring some marketing materials to the meeting to show where their logos will be displayed. Thoroughly think through which marketing materials you are going to bring. For example, you wouldn’t want to bring beer koozies to a car dealership because there could be drinking and driving implications. Make sure your marketing materials will make the best impression possible on your audience.
With all of this informative advice, you’re sure to have a polished pitch. Remember, you are bringing brand recognition and marketing opportunities to the table. Race car sponsorships are mutually beneficial. Be confident, calm, and collected. You got this!
Don’t forget to tune into our final video in the racing sponsorship series about following up after the pitch.